I consider my number one priority as a librarian to acquire awesome books and help our students find books that they will love or find interesting. Many in the profession call this readers advisory. There are so many forms this can take from book trailers, book talks, personality quizzes (see my post about genre personalities here), having one on one conversations, and today I am sharing one of my favorite readers advisory activities: speed dating with a book!
What is speed dating with a book?
Students spend 3-5 minutes with a book of their choosing and rate the books they 'date' on their attractiveness, personality, and comprehension/compatibility. There are different variations on this activity all around the internet nowadays so feel free to do some Googling for different ideas.
You could hear a pin drop they were so engaged in their 'dates!'
Setting the Stage to Engage
I set out a variety of high interest books from different genres on 7 -8 different tables with 4 chairs each. My list changes each time I do this activity because new books come out and I get to know the students and their interests more. The number of books stays about the same as I want to have enough for students to choose from. With 6 books per table and 7 or 8 tables, plan to have 42-48 books on hand.
Find the table images I created for table signs here.
I like to go extra when decorating so of course I had tablecloths and decor on all the tables. There is a cheap option on Amazon for a pack of white tablecloths. The decor I have collected over the years, but since it is Valentine's Day, there are always good deals at Michaels, Target Dollar Spot, or Hobby Lobby.
One other thing I do is softly play cheesy love music in the background as a timer for each date round. Besides the books, this is what our teachers and students love the most! Check out the Spotify playlist I made just for them here.
How Do I Choose Books?
Choosing books depends on the age group that is coming in and the personality of the students I know are visiting the library. This honestly gets into a deep discussion about readers advisory, but I work with our Student Library Advisory Board throughout the year to know what books our students are loving along with circulation stats and new releases. I also read (A LOT) and generally know the books. This year, I tried something new by picking books based on their 'personalities' rather than just their genres. This has been a huge hit with the students!
The biggest consideration for me in choosing books beyond this is whether we have the digital version of the book on Sora-OverDrive so students can check the book out immediately. That instant gratification is crucial with our reluctant readers and OverDrive makes that possible while also helping me maintain organization for two weeks of speed dating.
The #MeToo movement has shed new light on the prevalence of gender-based harassment and violence. As national conversations about power, patriarchy, and oppression continue to expand, we have seen acknowledgement on a smaller scale (including through #MeTooK12) that schools and students are not immune to these issues. However, conversations about healthy relationships and dating, gender equality, sexism, and harassment are not easy, which has led to a longstanding culture of silence. Only about half of all states have requirements for teaching sex education, leaving the landscape around students' knowledge of these topics uneven.
How can we support our students in the wake of the #MeToo Movement?
Barbara Dee's timely exploration of this subject is the perfect starting point for conversations regarding the #MeToo Movement in our schools.
"For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?
But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.
It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself."
Lesson and Resources
A fellow change-agent teacher friend of mine, Courtney Hagans, and I read this heartfelt novel and knew it would be the perfect starting ground for a deeper discussion regarding the #MeToo Movement for her 8th graders. There is nothing explicit in the novel, but it does bring up some deeper (and let's be honest, uncomfortable) conversations.
To introduce the novel, we introduced the idea of the #MeToo movement based on a lesson we found from the New York Times with a graffiti wall (thank you Padlet) answering a few intro questions.
(Padlet was copied over so that names are not listed to maintain the privacy of our students.)
We thought using Padlet would help our students open up more due to the anonymity of the posts. We used these points to guide our discussions in small groups with our girls.
From there, we began reading the novel. We used the following discussion questions to guide our book discussions in person.
We had the phenomenal opportunity to meet with Ms. Dee following the completion of the novel in which our girls spent their lunch having a conversation with her regarding the book and the #MeToo Movement in schools, specifically middle school. It was the most amazing experience to get first hand information and to be able to ask questions from the expert and author!
As the final project of this lesson, our 8th graders put together a Wakelet of resources for their classmates and teachers to learn more about the #MeTook12 movement to support our school community as well as to help the stigma of this subject becomes less controversial and more helpful.
After sharing our 12 Days of #Techmas again this year, I completely forgot to upload it here to the blog. Enjoy!
Our school celebrates the 7 mindsets within our learning community and so I often wonder as a library media specialist how I can support our teachers and students with this particular curriculum. What this is really asking is how i can support the social and emotional learning of our students and staff.
We've done a few projects such as
Our mirror talk display:
Curating books and materials that focus on mental health:
Creating book suggestions based on the 7 Mindsets curriculum:
And we've done a few creative projects to promote creative caring and thinking about others:
Live to Give - Make a Difference
Our school celebrates on mindset a month throughout the school year and with November being Live to Give, I think it's the perfect opportunity to bring forth our Creative Caring projects to the MakerSpace in full force! Please join us in our attempts to make a difference in our community.
Because our Scholastic Book Fair is being delivered on Tuesday next week, we celebrated Banned Books Week early this year. I was able to meet with every ELA classroom in our school, which means I taught all of our 1,400 students in one week. That was a huge task and accomplishment! This year, I used station rotations in order to celebrate our freedom to read, to think, to question, and to learn.
What is Banned Books Week?
"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries...It highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular."
What did we do?
Check out my Instagram Stories for how I set up these stations! The station explanations are added below - all you need to do is use books you feel comfortable using for your age group.
For what we did last year, visit here.
Reading is a fantastic way to celebrate and ponder on who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. Books also add valuable insight to help us gain greater understanding of cultures and experiences different from our own. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I have pulled together a new list of books that celebrate Latinx heritage, culture, and identity. For last years list, visit here.
My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson
When thirteen-year-old Lora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro’s army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven, and her father roars like a lion. Nora has barely been outside of Havana — why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody’s kitchen? But Nora is stubborn: didn’t her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Nora’s abuela takes her side, even as she makes Nora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Nora know for sure when that time has come?
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
From her clothing style to her favorite music to the zines she makes, Malú is a true punk kid. When she moves with her mom to a new city, she finds out that her interests make her a misfit at her new school — but she won’t let that faze her. An inspiring story of a girl fighting for self-expression, and navigating the challenges of making new friends, having parents in different states, and learning to love her heritage and identity.
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics features a wide range of lyrical biographies of notable Latinos. With vibrant illustrations and tight free verse, Lopez and Engle profile figures ranging from César Chávez to José Martí, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, and beyond.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
*For Young Adult Audience*
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Your perfect Mexican daughter? That’s not Julia. That was her sister, Olga. But Olga died in a terrible accident, and in the wake of that tragedy Julia’s imperfections are even more magnified, especially where her mother is concerned. As Julia sets out to learn more about the person her seemingly perfect sister really was, she begins to unpack the complexities of family pressure, expectations, cultural identity, stereotypes, and the search for one’s own identity.
*For Young Adult Audience*
Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos by Lulu Delacre
Puerto Rican author Lulu Delacre writes 12 short stories about what it means to be Latinx in the U.S. today. Readers will meet a young girl who spends the day on her father’s burrito truck, two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more. Short stories are often the just-right thing for reluctant readers who have low reading stamina. Plus, I think middle grade readers will appreciate reading stories that reflect their lives, not their parents’ or grandparents’ stories.
La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya
This bilingual retelling of the classic fairy tale is spunky, playful, and fun. Featuring gorgeous illustrations inspired by illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal's native Peru and cleverly crafted rhymes from author Susan Middleton Elya, it’s a joy for both the reader and the listener. Don’t be surprised if the kiddos can’t stop talking about la reina, la niña, and that pesky little guisante.
Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez
Lucía thinks she has what it takes to be a luchadora (she even has an awesome mask and cape to prove it!), but she starts to doubt herself when she’s told only boys can be luchadores. Then her grandma shares a family secret that inspires Lucía to feel proud of her history and empowered to follow in the steps of the luchadoras before her.